Valentina Tereshkova was born on March 6, 1937, in the center of Russia. She formed an interest in parachute jumping at an early age.
She was working in a clothing factory when she joined the local parachute jumping club. She made her first jump on May 22, 1959. It was her parachute jumping aptitudes that got her application for flying in space noticed. Out of more than 400 applications, she became one of the 5 finalists.
Her intense training included rocket engineering courses, numerous tests (centrifugal, isolation, etc.), flights in zero gravity, 120 parachute jumps, and flight lessons.
2 years after the first human space flight, on June 16, 1963, Valentina became the first woman to travel to space onboard Vostok 6. Her mission, code name “Seagull”, lasted 3 days.
More than 19 years went by before another woman, Svetlana Savitskaya, flew in space. Since Valentina’s flight, 55 women have travelled in space. Together, they represent 10.9% of all astronauts.
Today, Valentina Tereshkova remains the only woman to have flown in space alone. She has said that she would love to fly to Mars even if it was a one-way trip.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first female flight in space, our theme in 2013 is: “Women and space”.